Spacing Debt

Obligations, Violence, and Endurance in Ramallah, Palestine

Book Pages: 208 Illustrations: 10 illustrations Published: January 2021

Geography, Middle East Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

In Spacing Debt Christopher Harker demonstrates that financial debt is as much a spatial phenomenon as it is a temporal and social one. Harker traces the emergence of debt in Ramallah after 2008 as part of the financialization of the Palestinian economy under Israeli settler colonialism. Debt contributes to processes through which Palestinians are kept economically unstable and subordinate. Harker draws extensively on residents' accounts of living with the explosion of personal debt to highlight the entanglement of consumer credit with other obligatory relations among family, friends, and institutions. He offers a new geographical theorization of debt, showing how debt affects urban space, including the movement of bodies through the city, localized economies, and the political violence associated with occupation. Bringing cultural and urban imaginaries into conversation with monetized debt, Harker shows how debt itself becomes a slow violence embedded into the everyday lives of citizens. However, debt is also a means through which Palestinians practice endurance, creatively adapting to life under occupation.


“The first in-depth ethnographic research on debt formation in the contemporary Palestinian context, this groundbreaking work proposes a host of new ways for social geographers to rethink debt at multiple scales. Spacing Debt ambitiously engages theoretical debates across a wide array of disciplinary approaches and effectively links it with fascinating and carefully treated ethnographic cases and interview materials.” — Deborah James, author of Money from Nothing: Indebtedness and Aspiration in South Africa

“This is the first sustained treatment of the everyday lives of debt in the Palestinian context based on in-depth fieldwork and long-term engagement with the communities under study. Theoretically innovative and ethnographically rich, this groundbreaking study offers much-needed sociological insight into Palestine's neoliberal debt regime, while showing how Palestine as 'colonial exception' is a rich site to theorize social geographies of debt.” — Rema Hammami, Birzeit University


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Price: $24.95

Open Access